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Commit to the YJ Gratitude Challenge and take a moment each morning this month to give thanks. Make your list, post it, share it, and tag us @yogajournal and #yjgratitudechallenge. We’ll show our appreciation for you by sharing our favorite reader posts on Thanksgiving Day. Get in the spirit as members of the YJ family share their own lists and grounding tips all month long. Here, photographer Robert Sturman shares how stillness leads him to gratitude.
My Gratitude Practice
Stillness is my practice. Some call it meditation, but I weave it into my life so that it is integrated with just about everything I do—and everything in between. It is incredible how much sweetness we can cultivate just from the simple act of being still.
How I Get Grounded For Gratitude
I usually turn to yoga. What else? For me, the practice of yoga has the special quality of removing the unnecessary. When I am on my mat and that first drop of sweat lands, I know I am going inside to clean out what is in the way of my relaxed state. Gratitude is a relaxed state.
My Gratitude List
1. My mother, father, and two older sisters. Simply put, they are the most reliable, trustworthy people I have ever met, and I cherish them all. It has become so clear to me how those years growing up with my family has shaped so much of who I am, and it is truly a gift to be able to experience life with them as a grateful adult.
2. My pup, Chai. If I had to draw a picture of my heart, I think it would look just like her. It is a miracle how close human beings can be with dogs. I learn everything from her, mainly—to do what I love and keep life simple so that what I love is all there is.
3. My yoga teacher, Micheline Berry. I can’t even begin to describe the amount of gratitude I have for her. She provided me with the essential tools I needed to persevere as a creator in the world. Many of us artists don’t know how to sit still in the fire of existence. It is a big problem for most of us. But, going into it, through asana, is a beautiful way to confront it, endure it, and find peace with it. I look forward to the day yoga is mandatory at all art academies across the globe.
4. My best friend, Steven. He’s the brother I never had, and I’ve known him since I was born. It wasn’t until recently that I realized he was just like a brother and having a brother is something I am infinitely grateful for.
5. My body. I did not always treat it with the respect it deserves. But having fallen in love with the practice of yoga, I can honestly say that at 45 years old I am in the fiercest shape of my life and I feel like I’m 22. I need this body to do what I gotta do.
6) All the people I work with all over the world. For many years, I had to constantly prove myself as an artist to win the trust of the people I worked with. It is such a blessing to have that off the table and to be an artist within a global community of human beings who trust my sincerity and my vision.
The Yoga Pose I’m Most Grateful For
It has to be Child’s Pose. It feels so incredible to bow to the Earth and just be nothing.
ABOUT ROBERT STURMAN
A dedicated yoga practitioner, photographer Robert Sturman has increasingly focused on capturing the timeless grace and embodied mindfulness of asana in his work. His portraits, whether set in the lively streets of Manhattan, the expansive beaches and canyons of Malibu, the timeless elegance of Walden’s New England, or the bleakness of Marin County’s San Quentin Prison, remind us that there is beauty everywhere. In Sturman’s own words, “I often think of Rumi’s words, ‘I can’t stop pointing to the beauty.’ That feels right to me.” Sturman’s honors include Official Artist of the 47th Annual Grammy Awards, 2010 FIFA World Cup Artist Representing America, and Official Artist 2007 United States Olympics. In 2012 and 2013, Sturman was the subject of two separate New York Times articles celebrating his photographs of yoga from around the world. See more on: